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Preparing for from-the-barrel tastings at Zorvino Vineyards. Courtesy photo.




Seacoast Barrel Winery Tasting

When: Saturday, Jan. 23, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Sweet Baby Vineyard 260 Stage Road, Hampstead, sweetbabyvineyard.com; Jewell Towne Vineyards, 183 Whitehall Road, South Hampton, jewelltownevineyards.com; Flag Hill Winery & Distillery 297 N. River Road, Lee, flaghill.com; Zorvino Vineyards 226 Main St., Sandown, zorvino.com
Tickets: $10. Purchase at any participating winery




Sneak peek sips
Barrel tastings on the Seacoast Wine Trail

01/21/16
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



 The winter months are a great time to visit the state’s wineries and vineyards, as owners and winemakers have more free time during the slow season. To up the incentive to visit, Zorvino Vineyards, Jewell Towne Vineyards, Sweet Baby Vineyard and Flag Hill Winery & Distillery will open their cellar doors on Saturday, Jan. 23, for the Seacoast Barrel Winery Tasting to give guests the chance to try their wines straight from the barrel.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for people to really feel like they understand and can appreciate the wine as it’s developing and before it goes into the bottle,” Brenda Oldak, co-owner of Jewell Towne Vineyards, said in a phone interview. “And there’s something exciting about tasting a product that isn’t yet out to the market.”
Starting at 11 a.m., folks can begin their day at any of the four wineries or vineyards (also known as the Seacoast Wine Trail), purchase a ticket and receive a wine glass and a certificate to stamp from stop to stop. Oldak suggests allowing roughly 45 minutes for each visit, but since the event runs into the evening, people have plenty of time at and in between each location.
Though Jewell Towne has held a barrel tasting before, Oldak said she appreciates doing it in partnership with other area wineries.
“It’s a little more of an interesting opportunity for our guests because they’ll get to not only visit other vineyards and wineries, but taste and compare the wines between the vineyards,” she said.
“We like the idea of having people come and visit all of us in one day, and no one ever gets to try the product before it’s actually bottled,” Tom Zack, wine director at Zorvino Vineyards, said in a phone interview. “We’ve seen other states do it before and do it successfully. … It’s not unusual in Napa Valley, but here in New Hampshire it’s kind of cutting edge.”
At this first-ever barrel tasting for Zorvino, Zack said, guests will have the chance to taste four wines, including a pinotage made from South African grapes that they’ve never done before, and hear more about the winemaking process.
“Some will taste out of stainless steel barrels and tanks, but we are actually going be testing out some of our oak barrels as well,” he said. “We’ve had certain special products that we’ve had our eye on and decided it would be perfect for this.”
Oldak said the experience at Jewell Towne will be unique in that her husband, the “creative force behind our whole operation as well as our wines,” will introduce guests to the wine and wine cellar where they’ll taste riesling, seyval, chardonnay, cayuga and maréchal foch.
“When we taste wine before bottling we are looking for both the characteristics we’re pleased with and those that might need some refinement,” Oldak said. “It’s going to present the person who comes to these barrel tastings with a more in-depth understanding as to the winemaking than we might otherwise convey.”  
Zack agreed that a lot of the interest in an event such as this lies in the fact the you’re tasting a work in progress, not a finished product. 
“You’ll be able to taste something before it’s finished so we’ll point out things that might change in the process before it’s ready, like residual sugar,” he said. “You’ll get the chance to see a wine that’s been in a barrel for six months and compare it to something in the barrel for only a couple months or a new barrel compared to an old barrel. So there [are] a lot of different aspects.” 





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